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A HFE personal trainer guiding a client through an exercise using suspension bands.
A HFE personal trainer guiding a client through an exercise using suspension bands.

Rep Counter or Personal Trainer?

5 minute read

Are you familiar with this scenario? You meet a new personal training client, evaluate their fitness level, design a great programme, teach them how to perform the exercises, and then start counting reps. Another workout later and you are still counting reps. A week later, more rep counting…

It’s probably not what you had in mind when you started you took your personal training course and it certainly isn’t what your customer wants or needs. This is where the difference lies between being a rep counter and being a personal trainer.

Are You Giving Your Clients Workouts or Results?

Take a hard look at your personal training business and ask yourself whether you are offering workout programmes or a comprehensive results-oriented program. Anyone can meet with a client, throw together a workout, and get started in the gym, but personal training is much more than this.

Personal training is about educating your clients, teaching them how to make better choices and adopt healthier behaviours in all areas of their life, especially exercise.

Let your clients know from the beginning that your goal is to help them achieve their optimal level of fitness and body composition. Then, prove your worth every bit of their investment in the following 3 steps:

1. Complete an Assessment:

Always go through a complete evaluation with your client before beginning any workouts or training programme, and encourage your client (especially those who haven’t been in the gym for a while) to get checked out by their GP. Ensure that you know exactly where they are starting from, and then you can use this as your benchmark from which to measure all future progress.

2. Set Short and Long-Term Goals:

Setting goals may be new to a lot of your clients, but this stage is crucial to the success of your professional relationship. Not only do the goals state clearly what the objective of your programme is, they also form an informal contract about exactly who is responsible for what.

This process is not quite as easy as it sounds. Often, PTs will spend just five minutes discussing a client’s goals, but in reality it should probably be taking much longer than this.

The goal setting process may last up to an hour and should use data and information from step 1 to set targets to strive for. When setting goals, it is also important that you ask a lot of questions and avoid focusing exclusively on weight loss- you can be far more creative and descriptive than this!

The goal setting process should paint a vivid picture of where your clients want to be, both in the short and long-term. This way, you can train them accordingly and ensure they get their time and money’s worth out of you.

3. Implement and Adjust:

Even the best workout programme won’t yield results forever. Keep detailed records of completed workouts and don’t be afraid to make a change or substitutions to keep your client’s program fresh and interesting.

It is important in this stage that you repeat some of the assessments from step 1 to ensure that your client is making progress towards the attainment of their goals. Furthermore, it is also crucial that you continue to supply motivation, encouragement and of course accurate coaching information to your clients to keep them focused – it is here that you are in danger of becoming a serial rep counter.

On the subject of rep counting, almost all of your clients will be able to count to 10 and more, so why bother insulting them by doing this on their behalf?

Ask your clients to keep a count of how many repetitions they have performed themselves so you have the time and freedom to focus on what actually matters – their technique and performance.

Add Value

Many personal trainers also place too much focus on the exercise programmes and overlook the pastoral side of personal training. If you truly want to master the personal training business, you will need to expand your sphere of influence with your clients.

Do you provide nutritional advice and services or simply design exercise programmes? Most personal trainer qualifications include a nutrition module or two, however if you don’t have a qualification in nutrition, you may want to consider undertaking one.

Are you holding your clients accountable for their success? As a personal trainer, you provide the foundation, but your client must own the process and be willing to do the work. Reinforce to your clients that consistent action in the right direction will result in success in the long-term- you merely provide the direction and the assistance.

Do you provide motivation for your client both in and out of the gym? It’s easy to motivate someone during a training session with phrases like “well done, come on, almost there”, but consider ways you can help your client overcome challenges during the week.

Send a text message with a motivational quote. Email clients at least once a week with useful strategies and tips. Surprise them with a little gift when they reach a short-term goal, even if it is only a bottle of water. If you’re having trouble motivating clients, read our five ways to make you a better motivator in the gym.

By incorporating one or more of these strategies into your professional arsenal, you’ll soon find yourself the proud owner of a successful personal training consultancy.

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